Be Like Water

As a youngster growing up in Hong Kong, Yan Yu grew to know Bruce Lee, not as the action hero of Kung Fu movies, but as a teacher of life who shared with those willing to listen to some very powerful words of wisdom. There is one quote from Mr. Lee that Yan recites from deep within his heart and soul:

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water.  Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle; you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.  Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

Yan thinks about being like water daily.  He lives and works in San Francisco, where he is surrounded by water.  With the hills and tremendous views of the San Francisco Bay, it reminds him of home, but also of how the world is forever changing.  Full of diversity and eccentricity, home is the heart of the Tech Culture, constantly morphing with new ideas and forever needing solutions to bring those ideas to the forefront.

People are also important to Yan.  For those who work at Spartan, he strives to not treat them as “resources” but as integral team members.  “We don’t want to use or consume people and in the process deplete them.  Rather, we want to find ways to bring out the best of them.”  

What’s unusual is that Yan brings this same thought process to the clients that Spartan works with.  “We don’t treat clients as revenue sources.”, says Yan. “If the focus is on revenue, we may not be motivated to do the right thing when it doesn’t bring revenue.”  Yan doesn’t want that mentality at Spartan, insisting the focus should always be on doing what’s right for our clients. The rest will work itself out.

Work life balance for his staff is also important to Yan and he often sacrifices his own vacation time to allow his co-workers to take the needed time off.  When asked what’s a perfect holiday for Yan, he had to take pause and think about it. In the end, it comes back to water. His perfect spot is at sea, taking in the nature and beauty of the ocean in a way that takes him away from the daily routines.

When asked what the last movie Yan saw, unsurprisingly he said “Aquaman”.  Water runs deep and, for Yan, he certainly emboldens Bruce Lee’s advice to “Be water….”